Saturday, September 24, 2016

That's a lot of gravel

I've heard them working in the gravel pit for the last couple of days.   However, the pit is just out of sight from the house so I can't watch them from here.  Indy and I went for a long walk this afternoon taking a route that would give us a look at their progress.  Was shocked to see how much gravel they were making.  This is the time of year where the towns will be looking for gravel to put on their unpaved roads.  The idea is to get fresh gravel down and let it freeze in place.  Looks to me like they will be able to handle the whole county's needs from one pit this year.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Blackberry leaves

We all woke up together this morning. The cat got a drink of water from the faucet, jumped off my bathroom vanity and took off. The dog followed me sleepily to the back door so she could go outside and do her morning ablutions. I started picking up the house since I had company coming today while I watched a Mr. Moto film on TV. Turns out Orion had run out to the garage (I'm still leaving the door open). She was now sitting in the middle of the living room floor w/ a mouse in her mouth. I tried to coax her toward the garage again. No dice. She let the still live rodent go for a little play time. Under the couch it went. Great. It might stay there and die. It could escape into the guest bedroom. It could make an unexpected appearance at anytime. Ori circled the couch a few times. Well, I'd been planning on moving the furniture to sweep underneath. Now was as good a time as any. I pushed the couch back and the mouse appeared but lay quiet. Ori gave it a tentative swipe w/ her paw. A little movement but not much. Ori was losing interest. I grabbed the broom and dustpan. Swept the little guy up and flung him outside. The door to the garage will remain shut until next spring!

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Was waiting to give Alejandra a ride home after milking.  I grabbed the camera and caught a pic of the cows in the barn.  Barns don't look like the ones I grew up w/.  They now have open sides so in warm weather the wind blows through.  The cows are free to walk around the inside perimeter and there are stalls w/ sand bedding in the interior.   In winter, tarps are lowered along the sides which trap in the cows own heat.  This end of the barn happens to be reserved for the dry cows.  Thalia will lounge around here for the six weeks before her calf is born.  Yeah, these Holsteins are huge anyway but Thalia is packing an extra 100 lbs just now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New heifer barn

I'd considered on Monday to put off scrubbing the parlor until Tuesday.  It's not like we hadn't done it in the past and I was already dog tired.  I kinda remembered though that there was something going on Tuesdays too.  Turns out Tuesday's are vet-check-day.  Had forgotten about that.  Same thing.  I'm given a list of cow numbers and have to mark their heads before they leave the parlor.  So it was up and down stairs again.  (Actually I enjoy it since I can interact w/ the other end of the cow.)  I'm sitting here tonight - I have to go to bed soon since 3:30 a.m. comes quicker than you might think - just can't remember what happens on Wednesdays.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ferns in their autumnal bronze

Carol, the dairy owner, walked through the door of the parlor, said her usual "Good Morning" and then stopped and said, "It's so good to have you back w/ us." Gratifying but I don't know what brought it on. Could be that today the hoofer was on-site so we were going to be busy. She gave me a list of 44 cows that had feet requiring attention. After milking a side (8 cows), I'd go up the stairs and check each ear tag number against my list. I marked the heads of the cows on the list w/ a brightly colored oily crayon. Before the cows could get back into the barn, Mike or the herdsman shuttled marked cows into a holding area for the hoofer. Alejandrina and I got into a system so we didn't miss any cows on the list. Mondays are also scrub day.   After finishing w/ the milking, Alejandrina and I each grabbed a brush and pail and started cleaning the parlor. Marking cows took more out of me than I thought and I was feeling light headed by the time we had finished the first side. Fainting wasn't a good option. Fortunately, Mike had a few minutes open and decided to use them helping us scrub. After the parlor was bright & white again, I gave Alejandrina a lift home. She brought along an extra banana and blueberry mini muffin for me. I swear food never tasted so good! Maybe that's how Carol felt this morning.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Path through the sugar maples

Took off early on Saturday for a long walk through the swamps. Leaf peeping is coming up next weekend and I haven't seen many trees turning yet. Still a lot of green but you can see those tinges of yellow and red showing up. Got home and worked on coordinating the historical society taking down their display at the library and the installation of the next display. Looks like we'll have a two week gap between when one display comes down and the new one goes in. More than I'd like but workable. If people are allowing the public to view their collection, I'm going to work around their schedules of when they have time to put them in and take them out. (Also, collectors tend to have more than one type of collection so I might want to hit them up later for another display.) Last night I opened up the window seat that contains the fall decorations for the house - towels, rugs, throws, knicknacks, etc. Even if the outside fall colors are a little slow this year, doesn't mean the inside of my house can't look autumnal.

Friday, September 16, 2016

White Canadian thistle

When Jose recently left the dairy (this is not the same Jose that I worked w/ years ago nor the Jose that beat up one of the other milkers), Domingo was moved from the morning milking to the night shift. Jose's replacement can then be taught by Domingo on how to milk and clean barns. I'm working Domingo's morning spot until he can come back to his usual time slot. Alejandrina, who also milks mornings, though was catching a ride to and from work w/ Domingo. So Mike picks her up and yesterday I was asked to give her a lift home.  She didn't appear to have a ride home today so I figured I was probably 'it' again. Not a problem. I'm more than happy to do it. Alejandrina will start up conversations w/ me but she doesn't understand English and my attempts at Spanglish often result in more confusion. We were driving to her house today when she started talking.   I picked up on the word 'comer'. That means 'to eat' doesn't it?   Maybe she was asking me what I planned to have for lunch? So I replied "hamburguesa con queso". She started laughing, talking even more quickly (none of which I understood), and finally pantomimed sleeping. What did that mean? Suddenly I got it! I pulled in the next driveway, turned around, and drove back down the road. I'd driven past her house and she was trying to tell me that I must be falling asleep. Clearly my navigation skills are on a par w/ my language skills!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nightshade berries

A friend's husband went in for a doctor's checkup after turning 65. He said that he was given three random words at the beginning of the appointment and then asked what those three words were at the end. Another friend and her husband had the same experience after they turned 65. We sat around talking about it as we ate breakfast and then someone gave us all three words to remember - horse, rose, penny. An hour later we were asked what the three words were. I had just stuck the three words into short-term memory and they were still there. Later when my long-term memory went rifling through the junk in short-term memory it would bypass those words as being of no consequence. However, two of my other friends said the way they remembered was to make a mental image incorporating the three words: they both pictured a horse's face w/ a rose stuck behind it's ear and a penny on it's nose. Rats. When long-term memory started sifting out the garbage in my short-term memory it was intrigued by the imagery and now the stupid three words are neatly stored away in my brain for easy retrieval. How it should have worked is like this morning at milking. In the fourth group of cows, #1270 needed pink eye medicine, #1439 needed hydrogen peroxide applied to an udder wound, #393, 1215, and 1243 had to be dried off so when they came into the parlor for milking, I needed to alert the herdsman. I memorized the numbers and found all of the cows when they came through. After tonight, those numbers will be neatly swept out of my memory as no longer important. Horse. Rose. Penny.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Virgin's bower

Got a call from Eric yesterday.  They needed me to fill-in starting Wednesday.  Would I be available?  Sure.  Set three alarms for 3:30 a.m. and I made it on time this morning.  Met the new herdsman who seems very nice and has that admirable quality of calmness.  There are a lot of cows in the hospital group and then after that the herdsman and owners went out about their other tasks and Alejandrina and I were on our own.  We've milked together before so that went pretty well.  How to milk cows according to procedure came back immediately.  However, other things took a bit of thought but I made it through the morning.  Unless there is more to it, the gossip around the milker who left wasn't very juicy.  However as I was finishing up in the parlor my Fitbit vibrated letting me know I made my step goal for the day - 10,000 steps by 10 a.m.   Glad I only work part time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fly Agaric

Late spring I told my neighbor Blake that I was glad the gravel pit on his land had stopped activity.  He grew serious and reminded me that they would be starting up again later.  I said I knew that but thought it was nice that they weren't doing anything while the rough-winged swallows and kingfishers were nesting in the pit's gravel cliffs.  The swallows and kingfishers have been gone for awhile now and I heard big machinery noises from that direction.  Decided Indy and I might just mosey around to that side of the hill so we could look over and see what was going on.  I cornered the basswood grove and there was a rather large yellow excavation machine working at the top of the ridge above Turtle Head pond.  While I stopped to watch the action, Indy poked around in the tall grass of the hay field.  W/ her graying muzzle and sometimes limp I forget that she is still a force to be reckoned w/.  She found a squirrel that put up quite the chase and battle but eventually Indy was the victor.  There was nothing I could have done to stop it and I'm pretty sure my brother Russell will be happy to have one less varmint around.  Just part of life and death in the Northwoods.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


While I was at the Fair about two weeks ago, I got an e-mail from the dairy where I used to work. Eric said he might have to let a milker go and could I come in to work starting the next Monday for a couple of weeks. "Sure," I replied. I wondered to myself if I remembered which end of the cow to milk. However, by that Thursday, Eric e-mailed that they wouldn't need me until Tuesday. "Not a problem", I replied. Figured Monday was Labor Day and since the protocol is to do no extra work on holidays, they probably thought they could get through that day w/o extra help. Before Tuesday though, I got another e-mail from Eric. They were going to start cutting corn and wouldn't need me until after the crop was in. "OK", I replied. Have no idea why field work would have anything to do w/ the milking but didn't ask any questions. By now I was also realizing that I wasn't really looking forward to milking again, even for a short time. This afternoon another e-mail from Eric - would I be able to milk starting Tuesday? I thought a bit about it but replied "Yes". Another e-mail tonight from Eric cancelled his earlier request.  He did add one extra bit of information though - "It's like a Spanish soap opera here," he wrote, "except w/ more clothing."   Now I'm kinda hoping I do actually go in to work at the dairy - sounds like some great gossip.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

American Copper butterfly on sedum

It was getting late when I went to bed but I still wasn't sleepy.  I turned on the TV, put the sleep timer on, and found one of those channels that only reruns old TV series.   It was playing The Green Hornet tonight!   The Green Hornet character was a techno-hero similar to Batman.  He had no superhuman powers but had a lot of gadgets and a special car named Black Beauty.  I don't remember this show from when it originally was broadcast and, to be blunt, it wasn't all that well written in my opinion.  However, it has two wonderful things going for it.  The first was Bruce Lee.  He played Kato, the Green Hornet's butler and sidekick in getting the bad guys.  He didn't say much but could move like a cat.  I'd heard that he physically slowed down his movements in fight scenes so they could be filmed but the show in addition had to play the fight scenes in slow motion so it didn't look like Bruce Lee was just using mind control to defeat the enemy.  I found a website that showed a short clip of Bruce Lee in normal speed giving a punch and then in a doubly-slowed down version of a similar punch.  In normal speed it appears just like when Gene Wilder draws his gun in Blazing Saddles - you see nothing except the other person's reaction.  The second wonderful thing about the Green Hornet?  Al Hurt's rendition of The Flight of the Bumblebee at the beginning and end of the show.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Bear's Head tooth mushroom

Pretty excited to find this beautiful mushroom on the walk today.  Not only hadn't I found a specimen before but it's edible.  The books say that sauteed and dipped in garlic butter it's flavor is reminiscent of lobster.  I didn't bring any home w/ me though since (1) I'm not absolutely positively sure it's Hericium americanum  and (2) I don't like lobster.  Might have been tempted if it's taste was described to be like a filet mignon w/ bernaise sauce.

Thursday, September 08, 2016


A beautiful day so I bopped over to see Aunt June this morning. I wheeled her through the door of the memory unit which goes right past the beautician shop for that floor. The volunteer person on duty knows me and came out to say hi. She also informed me that June had an appointment to have her hair set this morning but she'd put it off so June and I could have our visit. Glad I could find a spot in June's busy schedule! We went to a spot where June could look through big windows onto the patio while I told her all about the presidential candidates questioning last night. June had recently developed a habit of spitting out her food (for an elderly lady she could really get some distance) so I'd brought extra napkins but it wasn't necessary. Maybe it was being able to look outside or my engaging repertoire but she ate the whole donut and drank most of her mocha with no problems. Visits w/ June are always surprising in one way or another.